A person running fast at an incline up a hill

Pace vs. Effort

One mind-bending lesson that has begun to sink in from running longer and longer distances is the difference between pace and effort. Until recently, I’ve always combined those two in my mind.

In work, life, and in running we need to maintain a certain pace. A pretty fast pace actually. What if you were able to maintain your pace with 15% less effort than you are currently using? Try this with me. Do a quick systems check —

Your head.

How many items are you focusing on right now that you have no actual control over? When you are trying to accomplish a task or simply to be present with a colleague/client/friend, how many non-urgent or non-important thoughts are intruding? Are your notifications notifying you nonstop? Let them go!

Your heart.

Are you spending a lot of time longing for a past that doesn’t exist anymore? Stretching towards a future that isn’t here yet? Give yourself permission to chill out and be present with whatever you are doing right now. This is the only moment you have any actual control over – the more present you are right now, the more focused you are on accomplishing your current tasks and goals, the better your future outcomes are likely to be anyway. See how that works?

Your body.

How is your breathing? Sometimes when I’m really focused, I find myself not breathing as often (or as deeply). When I’m in an emotionally charged conversation, or preparing for something intense, my breath gets fast and shallow. Take a few deep breaths in through your nose and let them out through your mouth. This stimulates your vagus nerve and tells your entire nervous system to calm down. This is the fastest way to oxygenate, slow your heart rate, and feel better. You may need this technique more often than you realize!

I’m on a mission to find every possible opportunity to maintain pace while reducing effort. You’re invited to join in — please share what you learn along the way!